Minestrone alla Genovese – The Classic Minestrone

The famous Genoese-style minestrone is a very dense and satisfying meal.  It utilizes both seasonal vegetables and the famous pesto alla Genovese, made of garlic, basil, pine nuts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  But, as the Italian gastronome Massimo Alberini has said, as good as minestrone is, it is not a gastronomic specialty but rather an elemental […]

Vegetable Heaven From Italy Is Called Gianfottere

One of the grand dishes of southern Italy is a baked vegetable medley called gianfottere. There is a summer version and a winter version. It can be eaten from the vessel it’s cooked in hot, warm, or at room temperature. This recipe is a preparation for the summer version of verdure al forno, mixed oven-baked […]

Sicilian Eggplants Are Pearls Over Pasta

Eggplants were first introduced to Europe by Arab farmers in Spain and Sicily.  The anonymous Cordoban Calender of 961 mentions eggplants.  In Sicily the word for eggplant, milinciana derives from the Arabic word for the plant bādhinjān.  It was not at all popular at first.  As for the combination of pasta and eggplants which is […]

Luscious Duck Breast Inspiration from Gascony

In this classic dish from Languedoc and Gascony in France the duck breast is sliced thinly and cooked rare.   Most ducks sold in supermarkets are sold frozen and whole, so you’ll have to first defrost the whole duck, then you’ll have to cut the duck into pieces.  The parts you don’t use can be reserved […]

Pork Tenderloin Skewers on the Grill Are Buttery Delicious

This Italian preparation is called spiedini di maiale (pork skewers) and I use pork tenderloin, a buttery cut of meat ideal for grilling. The bread is a natural foil for the aromatic flavors of fresh sage and prosciutto.  A drizzle of olive oil at the end keeps the meat and bread moist and glistening.  The […]

Jambalaya Will Make Everyone Happy

Jambalaya is a rice dish famous in the Creole cooking of Louisiana, a kind of Louisiana version of the Spanish paella.  In the Creole cooking of jambalaya, a cooking associated with New Orleans, they make it “red” through the use of tomato paste and/or tomatoes while in Cajun cooking, the cooking of the Acadians from […]

Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches Make “Moon of the Faithful” Syrup for Crêpes

This Sicilian sweet syrup is part of what is known folklorically as being part of cucina arabo-sicula, the cooking influenced by the long ago Arab presence in Sicily.  In some Muslim countries, the apricot is known as the “moon of the faithful.”  The apricot belongs in the same family as the peach and nectarine, all […]

Grilled Shrimp Make Great Appetizers, But Can Be Ruined Quickly

Grilling shrimp is a very simple matter that can easily go wrong.  The difference between succulent shrimp grilled to golden orange perfection and dry, withered buttons of nothing is a matter of a minute or so.  When grilling shrimp it is best to stay by the fire and keep your eyes on them, turning often […]

“Oh, Wonderful!” Sicilian Eggplant

The Sicilian expression—although little known among contemporary Sicilians—sciàtara-e-màtara, is an exclamation of wonder–or contempt!  It might be said like “Oh, wonderful!” or contemptuously as in “God! Great merciful God!”  The expression derives from the Arabic shātirū yā mā tāra as in “oh, the cleverness that you see!” which Arabs say sarcastically when someone from whom […]

Fava, Artichokes, and Porcini Mushrooms with “Straw and Hay” Fettuccine

June is the time for fava and artichokes and what better way than to cook them with pasta as is typical of Italian cooking. In this recipe inspired by Tuscan cooking, the name of this pasta dish in Italian, paglia e fieno, is a slight twist on a typical dish in Siena, that means “straw […]

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